Major-General Amikam Norkin officially assumed command of the Israeli Air Force (IAF) in a ceremony at Tel Nof air base on Tuesday evening.
Norkin replaced Major-General Amir Eshel, who has retired after 40 years of military service. The ceremony was attended by both Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Eisenkot and US Air Force Chief of Staff, Gen. David Goldfein.
Norkin qualified to pilot an F-15 when he was a second lieutenant, at the age of 21.
Eshel, who replaced Ido Nehoshtan in May 2012, commanded the air force during the eight-day Operation Pillar of Defense campaign in Gaza during November 2012 and Operation Protective Edge in Gaza in 2014.
Eshel was praised by Eisenkot, who said, “Amir, you led the service with leadership, courage, and creative thinking. You spearheaded important developments for strengthening and building the force.”
In his introductory speech, Norkin said that “the Middle East is changing before our eyes. The global transformation in the balance of forces and the changing battlefield continue to expand the responsibility and mission of the Air Force. It also requires us to continue developing our capabilities to deal with the challenges of the future. The Air Force will continue to acquire new and advanced technologies.”
An IAF senior command forum recently discussed the challenges for 2017 and said the top three priorities were operational readiness, improvement of preparedness, and maintaining personnel. It also emphasized the challenges of ensuring aerial supremacy, cyber warfare, functional continuity in combat, the underground theater, and precise fire.
The IAF continues to face threats from regional instability— particularly preventing weapons transfers from Iran to Hezbollah via Syria, what it terms the “campaign between wars,” and the integration of the “Adir” stealth fighters (F-35I).
[Photo: IAF ]